Hello again, insomnia! Yes, it’s chemo day which means I had the steroid… which in turn means I’m up at 1:00 am to update my blog. It’s a very special chemo day, though, because it was my last treatment. It’s also special because I made a really hard choice.
I went into radiation this week feeling ragged (understatement) after the three-day weekend of vomiting, no food, little water, and ugly mucus. I almost started to cry when I talked to the radiation oncology nurse about my dread of this chemo. I confess I only told her half my dread, which was it potentially making me even sicker. The other half was of vomiting in a public place, even if I could have a private room in that public place. Chalk that up to another fun aspect of my hatred/phobia of throwing up.
The nurse said, from their perspective, the radiation was the most important and if the medical oncologist and I both decided to skip it, that was fine. She said the chemo clinic could give me IV anti-nausea drugs and also re-hydrate me, so I should go have that done for sure. I told Charlie (who drives me to treatments at this point, because of the high level of narcotics I’m taking), who looked worried but just nodded.
Then I got to the chemo center and talked to the two nurses there. One is the nurse I see every week, Courtney, who gently starts my IV and administers the many bags of drugs involved. The other is a Nurse Practitioner, Angela, who I see every few weeks and handles my overall health and prescriptions. Courtney got the IV started and began with the anti-nausea drug, thankfully, and she said Angela would come by to talk to me in a minute.
Angela said she understood how I felt and if I were 80 years old, she would agree with me. Then she said the C-word: CURE. “We want to do everything we can to give the best odds for curing your cancer. You missed one chemo last week. What can we do to help you be able to take this last chemo?”
We talked about the options. We switched one of my anti-nausea medications for a different one. We re-introduced the steroid for the two days after chemo. She prescribed a third anti-nausea drug, a patch–guaranteeing I had one source of anti-nausea medication that couldn’t be vomited up. She told me to come by every day for at least this week and even next week if I need to, for IV hydration. She said they’re committed to helping me any way they can, and that commitment doesn’t end after the last chemo treatment.
And then we both agreed that I would get the treatment. I’m really, really glad I did. The stronger anti-nausea drugs (especially Emend, which by IV is pretty much the atomic bomb of anti-nausea meds) and hydration mean I actually feel a little better than when I went in. The additional daily stop will mess up Charlie’s schedule a bit, but it will be worth it if it helps keep down the nausea (along with the new med and the patch).
When he came to pick me up, Charlie confessed that he was worried when it sounded like I wasn’t going to have the chemo. He wanted me to have it, because he wants the best shot at killing every cancer cell dead, dead, dead. I do too. I just had to be taken past how crappy I felt at the moment to remember that goal.
So here I am in week seven: 100% done with chemo, and 88% done with radiation. I have two radiation treatments tomorrow (making up the one I missed in the hospital), then one Thursday and Friday.
There’s a lot of variety in how quickly or slowly people heal after treatment. I’ve mentioned the “cooking” period several times. Despite the cooking, some people start feeling better fairly quickly. Other people say they felt their worst two weeks after treatment ended. Once again, I won’t know what will happen to me until I get there.
Whatever happens, I’m going to stay focused on the C-word: CURE.